Clinical Research on Cocaine

Approximately 1.4 million Americans 12 years or older have a stimulant use disorder, with the majority having a cocaine use disorder. Although cocaine use has gone down in the past decade, cocaine addiction remains a persistent problem that remains recalcitrant to treatment. While there are various psychosocial interventions that have shown some clinical utility, there remains the need for effective pharmacologic and novel psychosocial approaches targeting stimulant use disorders. Our Division has been at the forefront of investigating the neurobiology underlying treatment response, pharmacologic interventions, immunotherapies, and computerized technologies for the treatment of cocaine use disorders in patients with and without additional psychiatric comorbidities. Our Division is particularly focused on a translational approach to treatment development. The effect of novel medications on cocaine self-administration are examined under controlled laboratory conditions and those that look promising are further studied in a treatment setting. Currently, we are evaluating combined pharmacotherapies and a computer assisted behavioral and pharmacologic intervention for cocaine use disorder. Further, we continue to investigate how alterations in dopamine transmission (as determined by neuroimaging techniques) relates to treatment response.

Faculty conducting clinical cocaine research:

Laboratory Research on Cocaine

Research on the behavioral pharmacology of cocaine in human drug users is aimed at better understanding the antecedents and consequences of cocaine use. The current main focus is on how cocaine use affects decision-making. Cocaine users repeatedly make maladaptive decisions to continue using cocaine. These decisions are based on each individual’s past behavioral history of drug use, the physiological and neural effects of long-term drug use, their cognitive abilities, and the perceived short vs. long-term consequences of each decision. A better understanding of decision-making processes will provide information about how to tailor treatments to address specific behavioral and cognitive processes that can be improved to help individuals decide to not use drug.

Faculty conducting laboratory cocaine research: